We’re writing this from the mainland en route from Oban to Glasgow. It feels strange to notice the busyness of Oban, still far from the pace of life in London, feeling somewhat jarring on our return form the Isle of Coll. Over the course of our time on Coll we fell easily into our new routine; rehearsals, lessons, amazing food, concerts and of course, trips to the beautiful Coll Hotel bar post-performance. No moment was wasted and we’ve come away with a wealth of knowledge and an eagerness to perform.
It is hard to pin-point specific points of focus during our lessons with the amazing tutors Music Coll introduced us to. In fact, to touch on exact details would detract from the nature and depth of the teaching. Truthfully, the past ten days have left us with pockets of musical knowledge and feeling that will stay with us forever. We studied some of the greatest and most challenging repertoire for Piano Trio (Brahms, Beethoven, Haydn) during our time in Coll. It can be easy to shy away from the masterpieces within the Piano Trio canon for fear of doing the works an injustice approaching them at a younger age.
Exploring the legacy of these masterpieces alongside the important personal value they hold really was a privilege. This insight gave us a wonderful foundation to delve into the depths of the music and find confidence and assurance in our interpretation. After a year that cultivated a more insular way of life, we are so moved to have had the space to rediscover our identity as a group and as performers.
Thank you so much to our tutors and to the Tunnell Trust for inviting us to the beautiful Isle of Coll, the past ten days will stay with us for a very long time.
After a long and picturesque trip up north from London we have arrived and settled in at the stunning Isle of Coll. We have been enjoying some glorious walks after days filled to the brim with music we love, and cherishing every minute of it. We swam in the sea, hugged some horses, conversed with local sheep, and we got to explore some incredible repertoire with the course’s truly inspirational coaches, and we can’t wait to share the results with the local audience.
The past year and a half has been tough on many musicians including ourselves, so we have been grateful more than ever for the opportunity to be here as a quartet.
We are incredibly excited for our first concert in Coll tonight!
After a year of zoom rehearsals and sporadic periods of being able to play together, I have been so excited at the prospect of a whole week spent together. Since arriving on the beautiful and serene Isle of Coll we have been warmly welcomed into such a close community. I feel particularly touched by this after year of isolation. Being reminded of the impact music has on people and communities has reignited my excitement and passion for chamber music. Additionally, escaping to such a remote place has allowed me to momentarily forget about the busyness of student life and truly focus on connecting with each other through our music. Being surrounded by Tutors with such love for music has been inspiring and uplifting. I am really looking forward to performing the music we have been closely working on in the concerts at the end of the week.
Throughout the past year I have become accustomed to readjusting to cancelled plans. However, over the past few months the idea of travelling to the Isle of Coll for the Tunnell Trust Chamber Course seemed within reach and I found myself really investing in a plan for the first time in a long time.
Although we have been lucky to meet and rehearse this year, it has been very fragmented and so far from our way of working pre-covid. We’ve been on the Isle of Coll since Saturday and we’ve slowly been adjusting to intensively working together again. It’s been such a privilege to be given the space to re-learn and progress our way of playing as a Piano Trio.
We’ve been studying some amazing repertoire over the past few days (Brahms Trio No.1, Haydn Trio A Major Hob.XV:18, Beethoven Piano Trio No.3) and it’s been wonderful to work with and play to the incredible tutors here. The Tunnell Trust Music Coll feels unique in its atmosphere and the surroundings more beautiful than we could have imagined. Our time here has certainly felt very special and we can’t thank the Trust enough for inviting us.
After what has seemed like the longest year, the Tunnell Trust course has so far been a breath of fresh air. As with most musicians, we’ve spent our time mostly on our own, living a musically sparse life, and desperately trying to feel enthusiastic about live streamed concerts. Two very early starts, a tram, two trains and a ferry and we had arrived on the Isle of Coll. I felt refreshed. I’d never before ventured more remote than the Scottish Highlands and here I was in the back of beyond; complete paradise. The pace of life had gone from 100 to no more than a 5 and I was able to breathe deeply for the first time in months.
I also wasn’t sure that intense chamber rehearsing and coaching was what I needed and yet a day in and I already felt renewed. Playing live music with other people brings a special kind of joy which I hadn’t experienced since our last concert pre-covid in March 2020. Not only playing together but receiving guidance and advice from the most interesting and insightful musicians. Reliving old repertoire (Brahms B major trio) and exploring new pieces (Haydn trio in A major) has filled me with a hunger to play again, especially playing on the wonderful Bosendorfer grand piano they had hired in for the week. I already feel more assured in myself, more excited to try new things and completely desperate to get back to the piano. A few days of proper music making and I have been reminded of why those months of practising in a room by myself have been worth it. I would love to thank the Tunnell Trust for such a special opportunity.
Today was our last day working with the phenomenal Tim Brown. We’ve managed to get through works by MacMillan, Hillborg, Ravel, Nielsen, and Gershwin, and it’s safe to say they’re all the better for Tim’s input. We’re so grateful to have been able to work with someone with such encyclopaedic knowledge, and we’ll certainly miss his anecdotes – we can’t believe we’ve been able to work with someone who played The Firebird for Stravinsky himself!
On Monday we were able to perform a short programme of music to our colleagues from the Salome Quartet and the Larisa Trio. It’s such a rarity to be able to perform in the present circumstances, and it gave us a great taste of what’s to come later in the week.
We’ve been making the most of our surroundings in our free time and are gradually ticking off Coll’s stunning beaches. And yes, that means swimming in the sea! Even a brief encounter with a jellyfish hasn’t deterred Francesca from continuing to frequent the North Atlantic.
All in all we’re having an incredible time and relishing the opportunity to play together so much after such a tough year. We’re very excited to share the fruits of our labour later in the week.
As we gathered in London at 7am to begin our long drive up to Scotland, we were all so excited to be escaping the city for a week of intensive music making at Music Coll 2021. We had a great drive up, talking about the week ahead and the beautiful island we would be living on for the week. We then had a lovely lunch at the independent Tebay Services in Penrith, and later stopped off at Loch Lomond to enjoy the breathtaking scenery before driving through the mountains to Oban. We then had our second early start in a row to get the ferry across to Coll. It was well worth it as we watched the sunrise sailing away from the mainland and past the Isle of Mull, spending the whole journey on deck embracing the sea air (though George and Ellie took their their full Scottish breakfast inside!).
As we arrived on Coll we were greeted by Jonathan and David from the Tunnell Trust and were shown around An Cridhe. We then had our first coaching with Tim Brown which was amazing. We worked on the Nielsen Quintet and Hans Abrahamsen’s arrangement of Tombeau de Couperin, working to find a balance and flow that would help foreground the material that needs to be heard.
A few of us went on a short walk before dinner to explore the island and were accompanied on our journey down the seafront by an inquisitive seal! Dinner was provided at the Island Cafe by Heather and her wonderful team – the perfect end to a long day of travel and hard work.